In recent years the All-Japan Race Walking competitions in Nomi have incorporated the Asian 20km Race Walking Championships, and that was also the case with the 36th edition of the competition which was held on Sunday morning (11).
This being a recognised Area competition conducted under the supervision of the Asian Athletics Association, the Nomi event served as an Olympic qualification race.
Two little-known walkers from China, Zhu Chundong and Ding Huiqin, went home with the title honours. Chundong improved nearly seven seconds to his previous best to win the men’s crown in 1:21:22.
India’s national record-holder Gurmeet Singh, after leading most part of the race, finished in second place, nine seconds later. Singh already obtained the Olympic qualification when he clocked 1:22:05 during the Dublin Grand Prix of Race Walking last year. Besides that 1:20:23 during the Indian inter-railway championships at Bhubaneswar last month.
Singh was 19 seconds ahead of Chundong in the half-way mark at Nomi and maintained his form with another eight seconds lead when crossed the 15k mark. However fatigue took its toll as the Chinese snatch the front position from the Indian in the final kilometre.
Korean walker Byun Young Jun finished third for the bronze medal in 1:21:42, just a shade away from Japan’s Isamu Fujisawa.
Although only one athlete from a country is allowed to compete in each category at the Asian race walking championships, India and Iran obtained special permission to field additional entries to attain Olympic qualification as the Nomi event was one of the pre-designated races to achieve the London grade.
In the women’s race, Ding Huiquin won the top spot in 1:30:14 at her first-ever competition outside the walled-country. Rei Inoue of Japan officially took the silver position in 1:34:06 although two of her country-mates, Masumi Fuchise (1:30:36) and Mayumi Kawasaki (1:30:51), finished well ahead of her in the national competition held concurrently.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc of Vietnam was a joyous woman when she achieved the “B” standard for London Olympics when clocked 1:35:13, which brought her the bronze medal as well. It was only her second-ever international competition besides her gold medal winning South East Asian Games at Palembang, Indonesia, last year.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF
With assistance from Tatsumi Senda
1. Zhu Chundong CHN 1:21:22 PB
2. Gurmeet Singh IND 1:21:31
3. Byun Young Jun KOR 1:21:42
4. Isamu Fujisawa JPN 1:21:43
5. Rahimian Ebrahim IRI 1:24:01
6. Nguyen Thanh Ngung VIE 1:27:57
7. Lo Choon Sieng MAS 1:29:13
8. Hendro INA 1:30:10
9. Sim Soon Chye Edmund SIN 1:36:01
10. Zhu Bai-yu TPE 1:44:48
Baljinder Singh IND 1:22:12, Surinder Singh IND 1:23:53, Sepahi Badjani Vahid IRI 1:26:16, Abbal Singh Rana IND 1:27:50
Other leading Japan competitors
Takumi Saito 1:21:44, Sasakawa 1:24:52, Takuya Yoshida 1:24:55, Matsuzaki 1:26:21, Kento Tamura 1:26:26, Osamu 1:26:43, Okuma Samurai 1:26:53, Tsukasa 1:27:12
1. Ding Huiqin CHN 1:30:14 PB
2. Rei Inoue JPN 1:34:06
3. Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc VIE 1:35:13
4. Deepmala Devi IND 1:42:01
5. Zhang Jia-feng TPE 1:45:32
6. Ching Siu Nga HKG 1:45:57
7. Norliana Binti Mohd Rusni MAS 1:48:46
8. Seah Beng Choo Serene SIN 2:25:37
Khushbir Kaur IND 1:44:30
Other leading Japan competitors
Masumi Fuchise 1:30:36, Mayumi Kawasaki 1:30:51, Hiroi Maeda 1:35:01, Ai Michiguchi 1:35:51, Fumiko Okabe 1:36:33.